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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Sports Hall - The Meadows Community Centre - The Meadows Community Centre. View directions

Contact: Toni Birkin  Committee Manager

No. Item


Welcome, Introductions and Apologies

Attendance and apologies 


Apologies were received from Councillors Bick, Bird and Johnson.


Declarations of Interest


No interests were declared.


Minutes of Previous Meeting and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 70 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting of the 19th November 2012.



The minutes of the meeting held on 19th November 2012 were agreed as a correct record.


Public Questions

Please see information at the end of the agenda.


There were no public questions.

Change to Agenda Order

Under paragraph 4.2.1 of the Council Procedure Rules, the Chair used her discretion to alter the order of the agenda. However, for the ease of the reader, these minutes will follow the order of the agenda.


Update on the local impact of Welfare Reforms pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Naomi Armstrong, Benefits Manager (Cambridge City Council) will give an update on some of the local impacts of the government’s welfare reforms and highlight the mitigation measures being put in place by the Council.


Whilst it is still early to get an overview, Members may wish to provide further views about the local impacts on equalities groups. This may assist the Council in thinking about future local responses.


The Panel received a report from the Benefits Manager providing an update on the local impact of welfare reforms as detailed in the agenda.


The Panel made the following comments:

       i.          Concerns were expressed about the complexity of the benefit changes and the quality of the information from the government in the public domain.

     ii.          In response to questions the Officer confirmed that the pilot projects of Universal Credit were behind the original schedule.

   iii.          The Panel were concerned that the Discretionary Housing Payments allocation of funding was under pressure and that the available budget would run out.

   iv.          The Panel expressed concern regarding staff stress levels, in particular those dealing with customers who were facing difficulties. It was suggested that additional support might be needed to deal with this. Staff members stated that things like the lunch time Tai Chi sessions were helping and that managers were being supportive. 


Reaching Out to Older People in Cambridge pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Lynne Byrne, Age UK Cambridgeshire will talk about outreach work and some of the issues faced by vulnerable elderly people in Cambridge.


Members are asked to consider some of the issues raised by Lynne and how access to services can be improved. The Council’s Diversity Forum met earlier to discuss the work of the Cambridge Community Navigator and the Council’s involvement in Cambridgeshire Celebrates Ages and the work of the Council’s Housing Support Service. It will give a view on whether there is a need for additional coordination. 



The Panel received a presentation from Lynne Byrne of Age UK Cambridgeshire and Carol Williams, Strategic Development Manager of Cambridgeshire County Council regarding Reaching out to Older People in Cambridge.


Lynne Byrne gave the Panel an overview of the work of Age UK and highlighted how this linked to the changing demographics of an ageing population. She suggested that voluntary services were increasingly filling the gaps in care and support provision previously provided by statutory bodies.


Age UK provides an information and advocacy service. Their work had identified four key themes: benefit concerns, health related issues, help in the home and property concerns. She suggested that preventative support was cost effective in the long term.


Lynne Byrne requested that Cambridge City Council be aware of the following issues:

       i.          Many older people dislike telephone call centres where you do not immediately reach a person.

     ii.          Not all older people are willing, or able, to access information on the internet.

   iii.          Beware of unintended consequences when making changes to systems and policies.

   iv.          Please support small organisations, such as lunch clubs and social clubs, as their work is valued by the community.

    v.          Please make any grant process simple and avoid lengthy tendering processes.


Carol Williams added the following comments:

       i.          County Council Ageing Well work had identified similar themes to Age UK.

     ii.          A lack of knowledge of what services were available and how to access them had also been identified as a key concern. The Community Navigator network (funded until 2015) had been established to address this.


Members of the Panel made the following comments:

       i.          Individuals in need often faced a long wait for a care assessment to be completed.

     ii.          Volunteers were not able to fill the gaps.

   iii.          Commissioned services were profit driven and appeared to be less efficient than when they were provided by Local Authorities.

   iv.          People often wait until a crisis point to seek help and services cannot respond fast enough.

    v.          The City Council provides funding to the Citizens Advice Bureau and would welcome feedback on how this was addressing the needs of older people.


In response to questions Lynne Byrne and Carol Williams made the following comments:

       i.          Needs assessments which result in a care package would be reviewed regularly and would be benchmarked for quality.

     ii.          Keeping people in their own homes can be achieved, but is costly.

   iii.          The County Council, in common with most commissioning authorities, now only funds those identified as having the higher levels of need. More information on this would be circulated.

Action: Carol Williams

   iv.          Complaint’s about care standards should be raised with the Care Quality Commission.


The Manager of Temporary Housing and Housing Support stated that Cambridge City Council's Independent Living Service does provide support for older people in the City. Support was offered via 13 sheltered housing schemes, the community alarms service and 60+ for the wider community and an active social calendar for those who choose to participate.


The County Council was about to put out a tender for it’s older peoples housing support service and the City Council hopes to tender for this work to extend the good service offered to our tenants, to other older residents in Cambridge.


It was confirmed that the City Council funds a number of small voluntary groups and keeps its application process as simple as possible.


Assessing the equalities impacts of the new Local Plan pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Stephen Miles, Planning Policy and Economic Development Officer (Cambridge City Council), will introduce the Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) carried out by the Council for its draft Local Plan 2014.


Members are asked to give their views on the EqIA, as part of their role in providing quality assurance for assessing equalities impacts.


Additional documents:


The Panel received a report from the Planning Policy and Development Officer regarding Assessing the Equalities Impacts of the Local Plan. The Panel were asked to comment on both the Plan and the Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA). However, it was recognised that the Plan was a very large document and unless the Panel were familiar with it, it would be hard to comment in detail.


The Panel made the following comments:

       i.          The Plan makes no mention of affordable housing for young people.

     ii.          Faith issues were not addressed.

   iii.          The new Mosque had been approved under the old plan but the Panel suggested this could have a further impact on the Mill Road area.

   iv.          The Panel expressed a general view that the EqIA did not highlight the positive as well as it might. Many of the boxes which remained blank could in fact contain positive statements.

    v.          Officers were encouraged to celebrate their successes.


Ethnicity: findings from the 2011 Census pdf icon PDF 91 KB

David Kidston, Strategy and Partnerships Manager (Cambridge City Council), will introduce a paper showing significant changes in patterns of ethnicity in Cambridge, and outline some of the steps the Council is taking in response to these changes.


Members of the Panel are asked to comment on the issues highlighted  and provide advice on any further action that the Council could take to meet the needs of BAME communities.



The Panel received a report from the Strategy and Partnerships Manager regarding the findings from the 2011 Census.


The Panel expressed the view that the diversity of Cambridge should be celebrated. Publishing information on the country of origin of Cambridge residents was suggested as a positive way to demonstrate the true cultural mix of Cambridge. However, it was noted that the wide variety of ethnic groups also presented barriers to civic engagement; for example, councillors could be more diverse. 


The Panel hoped that the figures could be used as evidence to protect service when resources were scarce.


The Panel suggested that more social and cultural events for all ethnic groups would be welcomed.  They felt that minority groups would be more willing to engage in this way rather than attend formal meetings.


Equality in Employment End of Year Workforce Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Paul Williams, Diversity Advisor (Cambridge City Council), will outline progress in achieving targets in the Council’s workforce profile and ask for views on proposals to amend some targets to reflect the findings of Census 2011.


Members are invited to comment on progress and to agree to appropriate new targets.



The Panel received a report from the Organisational Development Manager regarding the Equality in Employment End of Year Workforce Report.


The Officer highlighted that the report had indicated that BAME candidates were successful at being shortlisted for posts but were not being appointed. More research into this issue was planned.


The Panel expressed satisfaction with progress towards targets but would like to see those improvements across the pay bands and not just at the lower grades.


The Panel were concerned that staff still refused to answer some of the profiling questions and wondered if this was something that needed further investigation, particularly if some departments appeared to have high numbers of ‘refusal to answer’ responses. Benchmarking against other organisations was suggested. The Organisational Development Manager agreed to look into this.


Future work programme of Equalities Panel

·      High Demand Families

·      Learning Disabilities and Complex Needs Groups



The Panel agreed that they would like a paper on High Demand Families for discussion at the November meeting.